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Rail Academy likely to be 'virtual' only

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A NEW college to qualify rail specialists is unlikely to be built as proposed, the SRA said this week.

The National Rail Academy (NRA) championed by the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) in last year's strategic plan is now more likely to take the form of an endorsement scheme for other courses.

The proposal for an NRA to beat the skills shortage in the industry was to be developed with the Railway Industry Training Council (RITC), with the SRA providing £500,000.

A spokesman for the SRA said this week that a decision was yet to be reached on whether the NRA will be a 'bricks and mortar or a virtual arrangement'.

Plans for a new skills council and other training initiatives have also been delayed as the SRA looks to appoint a new project manager to lead it.

The RITC, which co-ordinates training activities in the industry, is unlikely to continue in its present form once the new Skills Council is established. Instead, the SRA is expected to take the lead on the new council.

However, one training expert said the new council needs to be independent of the SRA, like the RITC is.

Meanwhile, the RITC has been working closely with Railtrack's head of engineering recruitment David Carrier to develop more rail related qualifications.

It is hoped National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) for rail skills can be established, to be recognised by and aligned with the Permanent Way Institution, the ICE and other bodies.

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